Autumn 2023 – Devon and West Somerset Residential Property

Back at the beginning of 2023 we predicted that it could be a good year to buy in this part of the world. So how has the year panned out so far, and what’s happening right here – right now?

This year the market took a while to get going, not quite Springing into action as early as usual, which we put down to prolonged wet weather, the Liz Truss misadventure, Ukraine, and a hangover from the frenetic market during Covid. In the first 3 months of the year there were only 270,000 transactions across Devon and Cornwall, which was significantly less than the previous two years. When the weather finally improved around the middle of May we saw the market come to life, with a healthy combination of new housing stock and new buyers.

Prices were widely predicted to fall across the country by around 20% from the peak reached in Summer 2022. These changes take longer to reach Devon than the rest of the country, but we’ve probably seen a fall off of around 15% by now. This may not be that obvious if you look at some of the guide prices that houses are still being marketed at.

Many vendors are still hoping to achieve a price that they may have got 18 months ago.

We’re seeing price reductions across the board. The average period before reducing guide price if there is no interest was 8 weeks, but we’re seeing some reduced after 3 weeks now.

Good houses that are realistically priced are selling well. There are still vendors that for various reasons must sell, and there are still many cash buyers around, who always planned to move this way. Those who resisted the pressure to buy in the last two years now have a window of opportunity.

Ever popular are pretty 4-5 bedroom period farmhouses, in a private position, far-reaching views, a converted barn, sitting in the middle of 8-12 acres of land and 20 not more than 20 minutes to the nearest supermarket, ready to move into, but not overdone in someone else’s taste, and not requiring any immediate major repairs as building costs today are so high. These unmolested gems are luckily still available in East Devon and West Somerset, and in very practical locations. Finding one that is priced at the right guide can be harder.

We recently looked at a wonderful farmhouse in the Blackdown Hills AONB down a long track with 15 acres, views to die for and a fully renovated large barn with 2 further bedrooms. The owners were down-sizing and had just completed on their new home. The guide was £1.15M. It sold quickly at just below guide. At the peak of the market this would have gone to best and finals at around £1.45M.

Will prices fall any further? The adjustment may have happened already but won’t be fully visible until the majority of properties on the market are priced at a level at which they’ll actually sell. We may not see much new stock now until the Spring, and the market could be steady until after the General Election when whoever gets in will seek to boost the economy and feel-good factor in any way they can.

So if you always plan to move to Devon or West Somerset, and are able to invest now, it could be the time to find that realistically priced property with a vendor that needs to sell.

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